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Implementation Completion Report (ICR) Review - Agric Services


  
1. Project Data:   
ES Date Posted:
07/31/2001   
PROJ ID:
P001864
Appraisal
Actual
Project Name:
Agric Services
Project Costs(US $M)
 19.81  17.82
Country:
Mauritania
Loan/Credit (US $M)
 18.20  16.52
Sector, Major Sect.:
Agricultural Extension,
Agriculture
Cofinancing (US $M)
 0  0
L/C Number:
C2575      
   
Board Approval (FY)
  94
Partners involved
 
Closing Date
12/31/2000 12/31/2000
         
Prepared by: Reviewed by: Group Manager: Group:  
Ridley Nelson
Nalini B. Kumar Alain A. Barbu OEDST

2. Project Objectives and Components:

a. Objectives
The project was a first five-year time slice of a long-term program. The long-term objectives were to increase agricultural productivity in a sustainable manner, to raise farmers' incomes, and to rationalize the use of public resources for agricultural services. The specific project objectives were to:(i) harmonize the approach to extension based on sound management principles and reshape extension into a demand driven service; and, (ii) strengthen linkages between research and extension focusing on adaptive and applied research.

b. Components
1. Improving agricultural extension services of the Ministry of Rural Development and Environment (MDRE) and the National Agency for Rural Development in 9 of the country's 12 regions. (US$6.5 million) 2. Strengthening two agricultural training institutions. (US$2.2 million) 3. Strengthening the agricultural research system and improving links with extension. (US$3.0 million) 4. Decentralization and policy support for MDRE. (US$5.1 million)

c. Comments on Project Cost, Financing and Dates
In May 1998 a restructuring mission introduced some changes which included opening up the project to other partners including NGOs, the introduction of new extension methodologies, special attention to the strengthening of producer organizations, and a shift towards agricultural diversification. However, since the objectives were not changed no formal restructuring was undertaken. Some reallaocation of the credit between components was carried out.


3. Achievement of Relevant Objectives:

Overall, outcome of the project is rated unsatisfactory by the ICR. While some progress was made towards the harmonization of countrywide, more demand driven extension, the institutional capacity building and decentralization (more properly deconcentration) was only weakly achieved. Limited progress was made in establishing a demand driven and sustainable national agricultural services system.The project impact on agricultural productivity and producers income is difficult to assess in the absence of a baseline survey and a systematic monitoring and evaluation system. (A beneficiary assessment has been commissioned but was not available at the time of writing of the ICR.) At the peak of activities in 1997, 30,000 farm families in over 1000 villages were being reached but this has later declined.

4. Significant Outcomes/Impacts:

Overall, the extension component was rated as marginally satisfactory. While there is no impact data, it is believed by the ICR that some technologies contributed to increasing food production and income and preventing major food production collapse and related food security problems. A number of crop & forage varieties and agroforestry species were released, improved stoves and small postharvest machinery were disseminated, and progress achieved with improved livestock vaccination and disease control, including particularly the training and deployment of 240 livestock auxiliaries selected by the communities. Extension recommendations were developed. Some progress was made on the recruitment and training of women extension staff. The originally inflexible T&V system was adjusted to take account of local circumstances and the original farmer contact groups were increasingly replaced by existing community groups. The training component was rated in the ICR as satisfactory. While the research component was rated unsatisfactory, there were some achievements in carrying out specific research programs and strengthening the two main research institutions. There was successful collaboration with the West African Rice Development Association.

5. Significant Shortcomings (include non-compliance with safeguard features):

Project execution was delayed and negatively affected by two periods of suspension of disbursements as a consequence of financial mismanagement, misuse of project vehicles, and noncompliance with procurement rules. Due to delays and disbursement suspension the project was not able to replace vehicles so the mobility of extension staff is now severely limited. The research component failed to achieve the proposed national agricultural research system laid out in the SAR, although the ICR suggests that this goal was probably unrealistic. The decentralization and policy support component achieved the construction of office buildings. But the delegation of authority, responsibilities, and financial resources to the region's has only just started. No policy studies were carried out by the Planning Unit of MRDE. By the end of the project no Monitoring and Evaluation system was in place. There were frequent changes in senior MRDE officials with no less than12 ministers over the project period. The proposed research organizational structure, with a National Agricultural Research Council supported by a Scientific and Technical Commission was excessive given the limited capacity of the pre-project research system. The Project Management Unit proved to be weak with insufficient internal control procedures which led to financial mismanagement. Overall compliance with the Development Credit Agreement was not satisfactory. Project sustainability is unlikely since present levels of budgetary allocation cannot maintain the peak level of research extension and training activities nor replace vehicles. It was not until 1998, when auditors pointed out the financial mismanagement, that supervision missions included financial or procurement specialists.
6. Ratings:ICROED ReviewReason for Disagreement/Comments
Outcome:
UnsatisfactoryUnsatisfactory
Institutional Dev.:
ModestModest
Sustainability:
UnlikelyUnlikely
Bank Performance:
UnsatisfactoryUnsatisfactory
Borrower Perf.:
UnsatisfactoryUnsatisfactory
Quality of ICR:
Satisfactory

7. Lessons of Broad Applicablity:

Among the most important lessons, well brought out in the ICR, are: 1. In a situation with a small and weak national system, broader institutional issues may not need to take center stage at the beginning. Rather, emphasis should be placed on agreeing the direction and kinds of research and on close monitoring of results. 2. Partnership with an international or regional research institution can be very effective in training and methodological support. 3. The development of a sound financial management system and training of key financial management staff should be a condition of credit effectiveness. 4. In general, training, technology generation and technology transfer systems should be set up nationwide on a demand driven basis with a multiplicity of private and public services providers. Emphasis should be placed on building the capacity of village associations and producer organizations to articulate their demands.

8. Audit Recommended?  No

          Why?  

9. Comments on Quality of ICR:

A balanced and well argued analysis with sound ratings notwithstanding the lack of impact data. A relevant and useful set of lessons. Close to exemplary. Not strong on economic analysis but there were data limitations.

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